Analysis has shown that a single new oil and gas field in the North Sea would be enough to exceed the UK’s carbon budgets from its operations alone, as the government considers fossil fuel expansion despite the legally binding commitment to net zero.
According to reports, Rosebank is the biggest undeveloped oilfield in the North Sea, with the potential to produce 500m barrels of oil and has already cleared several regulatory hurdles, meaning a decision on its future could come soon.
However, an analysis by the campaigning group Uplift has shown that the likely emissions just from producing oil from the field would be enough to exceed the share of the UK’s carbon budgets that should come from oil and gas production, from 2028 onwards.
This would mean other sectors of the economy would have to cut their emissions further and faster to enable the UK to stay within its carbon budgets if the Rosebank field went ahead.
Findings from the analysis further raise questions over the government’s plans to push ahead with the development of oil and gas despite pleas from scientists and the UN to halt new licences. And Ministers are in the midst of a new licensing round for oil and gas in the North Sea, and this is expected to continue despite the net zero strategy.
The government’s energy security and net zero strategies, running to more than 1,000 pages, were unveiled on Thursday. They contain a major gamble on carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which will receive £20bn of government support over 20 years, and which ministers said would allow for continued fossil fuel use.
But scientists have said that using CCS in this way was a dangerous gamble and that calling off any proposed new development of oil and gas was a safer way to meet the net zero commitment.
To be developed by the Norwegian state-owned energy company Equinor, the Rosebank field is about three times the size of the Cambo field, which was the subject of intense campaigning before being paused last year. The emissions from Rosebank’s operations alone – not counting any emissions from burning the oil and gas it is likely to produce – are likely to reach 5.6m tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to an analysis by Uplift of the environmental statements provided by Equinor.
This would be enough, when added to the emissions from the operations of existing oil and gas fields, to exceed the amount of emissions that should be allowed to come from the UK’s oil and gas sector, within the UK’s total carbon budget, from 2028.
Story was adapted from the Guardian.